Saturday Morning Message: Holiday Traditions Old or New?

Author: Carol Lane

Good Morning,

As the season turns from summer to fall and we begin to look ahead to the holiday season, we are faced with decisions about continuing holiday traditions or starting something new. I smiled as I read the variety of responses that came in this week. Those who are thinking about what to do during this difficult time of social isolation along with those who are new to grief may find some ideas in this week’s responses.

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If you would like to send a message thanking one or all of those who participated in this week’s Saturday Morning Message, send it to and your thoughts will be passed along to them. You never know how your words may touch the heart of another.

Carol Lane
Mother of Bryon

Responses from Survivors to last week's question

What traditions do you plan to keep or what new ones would you like to create for the upcoming holiday season? 

From Kelsey, mother of Michael: My son and I didn't have any particular customs or habits during holidays. We did what we did nearly everyday. We played video games and laughed a lot. One game called Yakuza was in Japanese. I made up words to go along with those in the game speaking. It was always very funny. So, I guess our tradition would be continuing our daily activities. He never wanted special attention for his choice to be a Marine. I was very proud of him.

From Leslie, mother of Eugene: I didn’t keep any traditions. It hurt my heart. It broke my heart. I tried for a couple of years, but I stopped. I used to cook for the holidays...big dinners. I enjoy cooking, but was always looking for the wise guy to tell me he could carve that turkey or make something better. I decided not to cook and wait ‘till I was invited to someone else’s home.

With the coronavirus, I don’t know what we will do. 

From Beth, spouse of Thomas: I can’t believe how much I have grown in the past two years since Tom's death and finding TAPS. Thanksgiving is hard, because his birthday was 11/22. He would either make dinner or we would go out to eat. This year, instead of spending money on a meal, I am going to make a donation in his memory. This year, when I hit 6/29/2020 which was the memory of his death, I made a donation to friends of survival. This month, I made a donation in memory of a church member who died a few weeks ago. We met two years ago in a Grief Share support group. I plan on getting in shape and running again and raising money to buy a plaque on the TAPS wall for Tom. I plan on making a donation each month, instead of spending money on gifts, to keep Tom’s memory alive and to help others. 

From Sandra, mother of Joshua: If it were up to me, I would just treat holidays like another day, because they bring so much sadness with them. The first Thanksgiving after the loss of my oldest son, I insisted on picking up Chinese food for Thanksgiving, because of a movie I saw on TV. It was not successful. At Christmas, I compromised on a tiny green Christmas tree with sparkling lights and generic ornaments and it was very pretty. I also bought holiday pillows for the couch, because my younger son wanted them. Now, I have a roasted turkey at Thanksgiving and a spiral honey baked ham at Christmas with the same tiny Christmas tree and the festive holiday pillows. I celebrate the holidays for my family.

Question for Next Week’s Saturday Morning Message 

This week’s question actually came from two survivors, Perry, father of Christopher and Elizabeth, spouse of Joseph. They wrote about habits their loved ones had and those Perry and Elizabeth still continue today, so the question is: What habits did your loved one have that you still remember? And, do you continue any of them today? We look forward to your responses. 

The Saturday Morning Message was created so survivors can share questions and read how others respond. Questions for future messages are always welcome. You can reply to this message or email In order to have your reply included the following week, it is best to send your response by Tuesday morning. Thank you to everyone responding this week and to those who read this message.

Song for the Week

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From Lydia, mother of Carl sent something different for the song of the week which might make you smile. Lydia wrote, “When the kids were little, we went to see “The Rugrats Movie”. One of the songs featured in the movie was "Witch Doctor" with the famous chorus, "oo ee oo aa aa, ting, tang, walla walla bing bang.". 

When Carl was a little bit older, he would complain about having a piece of music stuck in his head, which he called an earworm. I would tell him that I could fix it and proceed to sing the chorus of “Witch Doctor”, usually off key. After a couple of times, when I would offer to fix it, Carl would politely decline my offer of help. But I had a sneaking suspicion that he was hearing that silly chorus, "oo ee oo aa aa, ting, tang, walla walla bing bang." 

You can send me favorite songs for this song of the week section at and include a note about why the song is meaningful to you.

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Embrace the changing of the seasons, starting with some easy fall-themed meals.


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Visit the TAPS Online Community Calendar for this week's schedule of text and video chats and other offerings. We have a virtual gathering most days of the week. Whether you want to share your story or just read how other survivors are sharing and coping, this online grief support community is a way for you to develop and strengthen your connections with TAPS.

Other Items and Events of Interest

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The TAPS National Military Suicide Survivor Seminar is going virtual. Held October 16-18, you will hear from others who have walked the road you are traveling. Sessions will offer vital information on anxiety, loss and family dynamics, talking to children and more. The grief that follows suicide loss can be uniquely complicated. You are not alone, and we invite you to join us for a time of hope and healing. 

Celebrating 20 Years of Team TAPS 

For 20 years, Team TAPS has honored our heroes and raised awareness and funds to support the TAPS mission. This year, in celebration of our 20th anniversary, we are coming together to create a virtual movement. We will walk, run, bike, swim, and row - find ways to move in honor of our loved ones. We will gain strength, go the distance, and encourage each other. Join us for this adventure

You can discover all the opportunities to connect with your TAPS family on our website at the TAPS Event Calendar.

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We're all in this together

Have you lost your job or have reduced household income? How has the pandemic made an impact on your life? If you are grieving the death of a loved one, and their life included military service, we'd like to hear from you.

Your feedback will be used to improve TAPS programs and to communicate survivor needs to donors and stakeholders. Please share how COVID-19 has impacted you by taking our survey.


Did you lose your loved on due to an illness loss

If your military loved one suffered with a wound, illness, or injury, please consider taking our new Illness Loss Survivor Survey, so TAPS can honor your loved one through our advocacy efforts.

If you took the survey last year, we ask that you retake it as we've made important updates. Your response could help shape policy and legislation, and direct future TAPS programs and services. To learn more, email

Those who take either survey will receive a discount to the TAPS store for providing this important and valuable feedback.

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AmazonSmile is a simple way for you to support TAPS every time you shop, at no cost to you. Visit, log in, and select TAPS as your charity of choice. Amazon will give 0.5% of your eligible purchases to TAPS.

About the Saturday Morning Message

The Saturday Morning Message (SMM) is a weekly communication; written and contributed to by survivors. The primary focus of the Saturday Morning Message is to foster peer-based connection for support and encouragement.  It is the goal of this communication to foster a safe, supportive atmosphere where we can openly share in a non-judgmental and caring manner. Read and contribute as you are comfortable, and explore any opinions/ideas shared that are most beneficial to you on your individual journey. Content submitted for inclusion in the Saturday Morning Message is edited for spacing considerations, grammatical corrections and may be used in other TAPS publications.  

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If you ever need to speak to someone regarding an urgent matter or just need a listening ear, the loving family at TAPS is available to you 24 hours a day. Please feel free to contact TAPS at 800-959-8277.